Home & Garden

Patios: Public yet private

Jean Ryan’s garden appears both orderly and welcoming.
Jean Ryan’s garden appears both orderly and welcoming.

An attractive front yard is like a welcome mat. But if a small front yard also happens to be the best (or only) location for outdoor living, the residents may feel as if they are on public display.

In the 16 years since he earned his horticulture degree, Braden Lloyd of Rhythm &Roots Landscaping has developed a knack for making the most of small front yard gardens. Three of his recent projects demonstrate how that space can be made more private, attractive, useful and comfortable for residents.

Here’s a closer look at them.


Marge Reinhart owns two adjacent houses in Cayucos; she lives in one and rents the other. Her home property has raised wooden beds that define its front corners. Each is topped with an L-shaped glass wind break. In the left bed, five ‘Silver Sheen’ Pittosporums screen a sitting area and small fountain.

The planter beds around the sitting area also display colorful succulents, including chalky Dudleya, pinktinged Kalanchoe thrysifolia, and three Aeonium species. On the opposite side, blue morning glory and Astericus “Gold Coin” drape over the front of the planter box. Hibiscus, Correa and Coprosma repens add additional color and contrasting textures.

Reinhart’s rental property previously had a weedy lawn and drainage problems. With the lawn eliminated, a rock-filled trench now channels rain runoff, and gravel covers the soil between plantings. Patches of the low-growing ground cover Dymondia margaretae are spreading throughout the gravel, effectively uniting the varied garden areas.

This garden benefits from the adjacent garden’s glass windbreak. But here, the outdoor living area is a deck that extends across the house front. It is partially screened by an olive tree growing in a circular raised bed of varicolored Santa Barbara stone. Three variegated Leucadendrons provide additional screening alongside this dramatic centerpiece.

The mailbox shares a low, square planter box with a Catalina Ironwood tree and a ground cover, silvery Melaleuca incana. Most of the succulents planted in this garden echo those next door. While each garden is unique, the similarity in plant materials makes them complementary.

Morro Bay

Jean Ryan’s front patio in Morro Bay is screened by substantial raised beds of poured concrete, ranging in depth from one to three feet as they descend the sloped property line. A separate raised bed, planted with dark-leaved Coprosma, defines the entrance walkway and screens the house front.

In the street-side beds, Silver Sheen Pittosporum, tall variegated Leucodendron and New Zealand flax provide visual screening above low-growing succulents, rosemary and Dymondia. Along the driveway, the Leucodendron and New Zealand flax are repeated, highlighted by Coleonema “Golden Breath of Heaven.”

The patio between the raised beds and the house consists of large, textured concrete squares, spaced to allow room for a grasslike sedge, Carex glauca “Blue Zinger,” which can be clipped like lawn grass. Its tidy green lines provide a cool, mellow contrast to the concrete. Near the front door, the tall magenta wands of Calandrinia wave a warm welcome.

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